Senator Joe Pittman issued the following statement following today’s joint session of the General Assembly to receive the Governor’s 2020-21 budget proposal.
“In many ways, this is like the song that never ends. He recycles the same ideas that have failed over and over again. Yet again, he wants to tax local municipalities for state police service, which they already pay for,” Senator Pittman said. “Yet again, he wants to levy a severance tax on top of the impact tax that the Marcellus Shale suppliers already pay. He also wants to institute his carbon tax. In some respects he says he wants to save the planet, but in reality if he wants to tax carbon emissions and he wants to tax natural gas, we have to produce it and use it or we are not going to have any money.”
The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $1.5 billion (4.2 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year. The Governor is not requesting a broad-based tax increase this year, but is continuing to push for a Marcellus Shale extraction tax, a $1 per-ton increase in the tipping fee charged to trash companies, and a fee for all municipalities for State Police services.
“This is a long and winding road and we are going to have to see where it goes,” Senator Pittman added. Many of his policies I consider to be a direct assault on the hard working men and women that I represent in the 41st District who are proud of the fact that they keep our lights on and our homes warm through the production of our God-given natural resources. The very discussion of these tax policies is chasing away investment and I am afraid that just the talk of it is going to chase away our coal and natural gas producers.” Audio
The Governor is requesting a $100 million increase in Basic Education Funding to $6.4 billion, a $30 million increase for early childhood education (Pre-K Counts to $242.3 million and Head Start to $69.2 million), and a $25 million increase in special education funding to $1.2 billion.
The State System of Higher Education would see a $13 million increase to $490 million, while state funding for community colleges and state-related universities is flat-funded in the Governor’s request.
“I appreciate the Governor’s acknowledgment of the need to promote higher education and the investment he is proposing for the State System of Higher Education,” said Senator Pittman. “We have to recognize that our higher education system is in a very competitive situation based on our demographics. It needs to be fundamentally reformed. I think we also need to not lose sight of the career and technology training and the skills that can be made available to our students. They can go into the workforce, get family-sustaining jobs right out of the gate and not be burdened with thousands of dollars of debt in the process.” Audio Video
Senator Pittman is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will hold a three-week series of departmental budget hearings beginning on February 18. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee to hear cabinet secretaries and other Administration officials detail their plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.
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